Rank: Corporal
Number: 10174
Unit: 1st Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 5 September 1916
Age: 22
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Ralph was the only son of Elizabeth Ann Bowett and the late Harry Bowett of 124 Acre Lane Bramhall. He had been born in the Adswood area and enlisted in the army within days of war being declared in August 1914.

On 5th May 1915, Ralph was with his Battalion when it was ordered to occupy support trenches facing Hill 60 at Zillebeke, near Ypres (now Ieper) in Belgium. As soon as they reached the open country, they came under a heavy artillery barrage which, combined with a cloud of gas that had been released by the Germans, caused them considerable problems until they reached their position. Ralph was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal (second only to a Victoria Cross) for his actions that day. The citation, in the edition of the London Gazette of 3 August 1915, is:-

"For conspicuous gallantry and coolness on 5 May 1915 on "Hill 60" when owing to the telephone wires having been cut between the Battalion and 15th Brigade Headquarters, a very critical state of affairs existed. Private Bowett carried important messages along the railway under a very heavy rifle, shell and machine gun fire and through a badly gassed area."

Shortly after this incident, Ralph was wounded in the leg and, after recovering in hospital in York, he returned to Bramhall on sick leave in September 1915. A celebration was organised and he was paraded through the village, in a procession headed by the Boy Scouts' bugle band. It was reported in the press that "then followed a motor car in which was seated the hero of the hour, Private Bowett, who, smoking a cigarette, modestly carried off his honours"

The village had been decked out with streamers and flags and the procession slowly moved to outside the parish hall, where speeches were made. Ralph was presented with an inscribed wristwatch. In his reply, he said he felt he did not know how to express his gratitude and he would almost face German bullets than such a large audience.

It was not long before Ralph was fully recovered and had to face those German bullets. An account of the day he was killed in action is here. Ralph has no known grave and is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing.

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